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Old 06-07-2016, 09:13   #1
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What kind of sailboat should I buy?

I will be sailing on the Great Lakes. I do not envision racing or living aboard. I have a wife and 1 son, 5. My wife will be minimal help, at best. So, what type of boat should i buy and what should it contain so that I can moor and unmoor, and sail/cruise for weekends, small trips, etc. relatively easily with no real help?

I am not interested in power boats, so i hope this is doable. Thanks!
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Old 06-07-2016, 09:28   #2
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Re: What kind of sailboat should I buy?

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I will be sailing on the Great Lakes. I do not envision racing or living aboard. I have a wife and 1 son, 5. My wife will be minimal help, at best. So, what type of boat should i buy and what should it contain so that I can moor and unmoor, and sail/cruise for weekends, small trips, etc. relatively easily with no real help?

I am not interested in power boats, so i hope this is doable. Thanks!
Well, welcome here! If you have a car that can tow a boat, and a place to park it, I'd say something like a Catalina 25 or 22. They are relatively easy to sail, buy and maintain. If your wife is is only lukewarm on the idea, it's nice to have a boat that you can sail and do overnighters in, but is not breaking the bank. Your 5 year-old will have fun in just about anything that floats if he is like my 5 year-old.
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Old 06-07-2016, 09:55   #3
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Re: What kind of sailboat should I buy?

What's your price range and experience level, and what creature comforts do you want? Its completely doable but we need some direction.
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Old 06-07-2016, 10:02   #4
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Re: What kind of sailboat should I buy?

I am just learning how to sail. I'm on a racing crew right now, and will be taking formal lessons next month. I want room for 5, a/c (possibly) inboard engine, stove, refrigerator, ability to stand upright in cabin, rolling furler and maybe swim platform.


My price range is 0-20K.
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Old 06-07-2016, 10:10   #5
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Re: What kind of sailboat should I buy?

My big tip:
Look for something with an enclosed head, if you want your wife and friends to join you for daysailing or over nighters. Women and guests generally prefer an outing on a boat where they do not feel embarrassed to use the toilet.
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Old 06-07-2016, 10:16   #6
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Re: What kind of sailboat should I buy?

Buy the boat your wife likes, within reason, let her pick the boat.
That way you get to go out on the boat, trust me on this
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Old 06-07-2016, 11:25   #7
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Re: What kind of sailboat should I buy?

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Originally Posted by MichiganMikeUK View Post
I am just learning how to sail. I'm on a racing crew right now, and will be taking formal lessons next month. I want room for 5, a/c (possibly) inboard engine, stove, refrigerator, ability to stand upright in cabin, rolling furler and maybe swim platform.


My price range is 0-20K.
Ad while at the dock is possible, AC while underway will require a generator, and thus a bigger boat.

I would look at the long slew of 30' ish footers from bene/Hunter/Catalina and see what pops up locally. The list here is very long and not worth trucking in a boat from across the country.
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Old 06-07-2016, 12:05   #8
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Re: What kind of sailboat should I buy?

See if you can day-sail crew on a few different boats... Get an idea for what you really want by experiencing how the boats handle and what features they have.

Really there are so many variations possible that's the only way to see what you really want.
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Old 06-07-2016, 12:12   #9
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Re: What kind of sailboat should I buy?

ok, thanks. Actually, the guys are cruising next week, not racing. So that should help me get the feel of it while I'm not grinding or trimming.

I've read a bit, and it seems that center cockpits are great for single sail/with kids? Are the lines all drawn to the cockpit on these? Is there any huge difference between a 28ft and a 30, other than the sq. footage? I've heard people disagree on whether small boats or larger boats are easier to maneuver. arrgh so much to learn!
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Old 06-07-2016, 12:39   #10
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Re: What kind of sailboat should I buy?

I have spent time on 28' boats. They are not for me. In the great lakes you have to make sure the boom will not hit anyone and knock them into the water.

And yikes, the boat is heeling over as your feet are on the lines as you stuggle to get to the high side.

Look for boats with the arch that protects everyone from the boom. The boom needs to be above the arch.

Oh...and if the wife is luke-cool to the idea buy a boat with enough comfort that she just might enjoy.

Just as an example look at the Marlow Hunter 31' and 33'. Again just for an example.

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Old 06-07-2016, 12:50   #11
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Re: What kind of sailboat should I buy?

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Originally Posted by MichiganMikeUK View Post
I am just learning how to sail. I'm on a racing crew right now, and will be taking formal lessons next month. I want room for 5, a/c (possibly) inboard engine, stove, refrigerator, ability to stand upright in cabin, rolling furler and maybe swim platform.


My price range is 0-20K.
Hey, welcome to the Great Lakes! Lots of fun to be had on the water here. But I don't think your expectations match what you have to work with. You won't find a (working) A/C on any boat under 20k, and if you do, you'll only be able to run it off shore power unless you also have a generator (also not going to find a working one on a boat under 20k). Plus you don't really need one. The middle of Lake Michigan is 60 degrees even right now, and often that air is blowing in your direction on land.

If you're going to single-hand, that really limits you to smaller sailboats maybe 30'-35' and under. Get a couple seasons under your belt and maybe you can go a bit bigger by yourself. But around 30' you should be able to stand up in the cabin without an issue. Most are going to have some kind of alcohol or propane stove, but probably not a refrigerator (again for under 20k). You can stick a charcoal grill on the back of any sailboat unless your marina prohibits it. Swim platforms really didn't start to become a thing until the newer production boats in the last 20 years, and again these may be out of your price range.

You can definitely have a sailboat for under 20k. It'll be pretty basic but still fun. Also, keep in mind - good sailing weather will often be kicking up some waves too, which on the lakes are often sharp and steep. Are your wife and son willing to sit through that when you want to be out there? And if the lake is calm, chances are there's not enough wind to get far with a sail, so you'll be motoring. Not saying you can't. I did it for a few years with my wife and daughter. My wife actually enjoys sailing and I couldn't do it without her. We sailed out of Chicago regularly and had a few hours of some peaceful fun and came back. We've also done sailboat charters in the caribbean for a couple weeks at a time and it was great. Still want to do that again.

I know you said you're not interested in powerboats, but this year we just decided to go to the dark side and got one. Yesterday was 85, sunny, no wind, lake was flat as glass and we were able to go to the Indiana Dunes - a 30nm trip - in an hour. We were back by dinner time. You can't do that in a sailboat. Some food for thought. Think about how you want to use it and make the best with the funds you have. It'll be fun either way.

And small boats are definitely easier to maneuver. And do less damage when you hit the dock! Larger boats though will generally be able to handle rougher seas better, and might be a bit more comfortable for the crew.
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Old 06-07-2016, 12:58   #12
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Re: What kind of sailboat should I buy?

Oh boy. So much advice. So much contradiction! The fact is that ANY boat will do 90% of what the best boat will do; get you out on the water. Everybody here, myself included, will have a different idea as to what you should get. I don't know how to help you weed this all out, but first, I guess, make a list of priorities. Some points.

1. AC sucks energy like a stinkpot sucks gas. On a relatively small sailboat, it would be very difficult to install/feed/justify. A sailboat sits in the water. The Great Lakes are relatively cool. I recommend that you give this a miss.
2. Steady Hand is right about the head. Relatively small boats will provide enclosed heads because designers also got the message. Most boats over 25 feet will have this.
3. Refrigeration. See AC. This is more doable, but still needs lots of electrons. My 32 foot boat has an icechest, and will hold ice for four days in the hottest weather. Will that work for you? Big cash savings, one less system to maintain, which is no small matter.
4. For 20K you should be able to get a solid, well made production boat from the '70's or '80's that was loved by somebody, say in the 27 to 35 foot range. Check Yachtworld. I like Bristols and Cape Dory's. C&C's are nice. The Allieds have a loyal following. There are many, many others. I mean it that it should have been loved by somebody. There are a lot of systems on a sailboat, and love will maintain them, where an indifferent previous owner will leave you with much unfinished business.
No offence, but judging by your experience level, I HIGHLY recommend that you have an experienced boat owner in tow when you go to look at examples. Don't fall in love. Hire a surveyor.
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Old 06-07-2016, 13:31   #13
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Re: What kind of sailboat should I buy?

ok, thanks! yes, i only have a rudimentary knowledge of what i should be looking for when purchasing. I can do without a/c or a mini fridge. the 34' c&c that I am crewing on now has an ice chest, and it works just fine.

Is it the case that there will always be choppy water when I sail? All that motion might not be good for the family---the only other boats I've been on are my friends 32' power boat, a 547' guided missile cruiser, and a 453' destroyer. Which had no problem with big waves. Or anything else. lol
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Old 06-07-2016, 13:37   #14
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Re: What kind of sailboat should I buy?

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ok, thanks! yes, i only have a rudimentary knowledge of what i should be looking for when purchasing. I can do without a/c or a mini fridge. the 34' c&c that I am crewing on now has an ice chest, and it works just fine.

Is it the case that there will always be choppy water when I sail? All that motion might not be good for the family---the only other boats I've been on are my friends 32' power boat, a 547' guided missile cruiser, and a 453' destroyer. Which had no problem with big waves. Or anything else. lol
Which lake and what part of said lake would help answer waves questions.
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Old 06-07-2016, 13:44   #15
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Re: What kind of sailboat should I buy?

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Is it the case that there will always be choppy water when I sail? All that motion might not be good for the family---the only other boats I've been on are my friends 32' power boat, a 547' guided missile cruiser, and a 453' destroyer. Which had no problem with big waves. Or anything else. lol
Not always, it all depends on the amount of time and distance the winds spend over water. So the best and most comfortable sailing is going to be an offshore breeze where the winds were light to calm before. Where I am in Chicago, winds from the S, SW, or W are the most comfortable to sail in. I've been out in 25kt winds with under 1ft waves because it's blowing out of the SW and hasn't had a chance to build into anything. But if we get the same 25kt out of the NE, you're going to see 8-12ft seas and wish you were home. Wind shifts can also be dangerous too, it's not uncommon especially in the first half of the year for winds to completely change direction from a land breeze to a lake breeze and in the span of a couple hours waves can start to build to uncomfortable heights or get confused.
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